According to the Associated Press, The colony contains 475 vervet monkeys, many of which came from the Caribbean island of St. Kitts. They contain family trees that have been tracked for eight generations by researchers.
The dispute has erupted between Wake Forest University Health Sciences and the University of California at Los Angeles, over the primate colony in southern Forsyth County.
The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the Wake Forest group is suing to end a joint venture with UCLA involving the research center. UCLA accuses Wake Forest of financially mismanaging the center.
Wake Forest filed its lawsuit Dec. 7 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
The Wake Forest group says it’s willing to close the center if UCLA doesn’t agree to continue to pay half of the operating costs. Wake Forest paid $2 million to build the center.
In a counter lawsuit filed nearly two weeks ago, UCLA wants the court to declare the joint venture as terminated because of material breach by Wake Forest, and not because it withheld financial contributions.
Chad Campbell, a Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center spokesman, said Friday the lawsuit “is a contractual dispute.”
“We hope that it will be resolved in a speedy and favorable fashion. As with any ongoing litigation, we cannot comment further pending its resolution,” Campbell said.
The primate center is based on a 200-acre farm and had a workforce of about 80 employees, including 12 veterinarians, down 20 employees from when it opened in 2008. It has an average population of 800 monkeys.
No details were provided to explain exactly who shipped the monkeys from St. Kitts.